The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 5/10 - Andrew Nevins

Speaker: Andrew Nevins (University College London)
Date/Time: Friday May 10th, 3:30-5pm
Venue: 32-141
Title: Agree-Link, Derivational Sandwiching, and Agree-Copy


Recent work on agreement with coordinated DPs has largely converged on the hypothesis that agreement is established in two steps (a move anticipated in Pesetsky & Torrego 2004). Adopting the terminology in Arregi and Nevins 2012, we can refer to these as Agree-Link, or the syntactic establishment of an Agree relation between Probe and one or more Goals, and Agree-Copy, or the postsyntactic (PF) copying from Agree-Linked Goal(s) onto the Probe. Evidence for this split of Agree into two separate steps comes from the fact that they can be derivationally intercalated by postsyntactic operations such as Linearization in Hindi and Slovenian (Bhatt and Walkow, to appear; Marusic, Nevins and Badecker, to appear) postsyntactic morpheme displacement in Bulgarian (Arregi and Nevins, to appear), and Vocabulary Insertion in West Germanic (van Koppen 2005).

Further evidence for this two-step analysis of agreement comes from a different empirical domain, namely, variation in the interaction of agreement with case syncretisms due to postsyntactic impoverishment in Basque dialects and Indo-Aryan languages. In both cases, variation in the realization of agreement is due to a uniform establishment of syntactic Agree-Link relations, coupled with dialect- or language-particular differences in the application of Agree-Copy and its derivational interaction with postsyntactic impoverishment rules. The variation found is thus largely reduced to familiar feeding and counterfeeding interactions among operations in a derivational theory.

The interaction of agreement and case syncretism in these languages thus converges with crosslinguistic coordination patterns in providing evidence for a strongly derivational theory of Agree in which the latter is established in two steps: hierarchically defined syntactic Agree-Link, followed by postsyntactic Agree-Copy, which can interact in different derivationally defined ways with other postsyntactic operations. As such, it provides converging evidence for the view that minimalist and Distributed Morphology approaches to inflection involve sequenced derivational ordering of specific elementary operations (Müller 2008, Epstein & Seely 2002).